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Commercial Space Office Eyed as Standalone Body Under Transportation Department Secretary

Commercial spaceflight


Commercial Space Office Eyed as Standalone Body Under Transportation Department Secretary

The Federal Aviation Administration’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee is seeking approval for the return of the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation, or AST, as a standalone unit under the Secretary of Transportation, just like when it was created in 1984. 

COMSTAC unanimously recommended the office’s removal from FAA jurisdiction during its meeting Tuesday. According to the committee members, an AST out of the FAA would deal with current views that the office is not getting enough resources to oversee an expanding space launch industry, SpaceNews reported Saturday.

George Nield, a COMSTAC member and a speaker at a past Potomac Officers Club event, noted the AST’s low priority under ditjudi the FAA, with its $42 million allocation for fiscal year 2024, about 0.35 percent of the agency’s budget. The office’s share in the FAA workforce is around that small percentage as well, Nield added.  

He also stressed the problems of AST under an agency focused on aviation, an industry now being outpaced by spaceflight in terms of growth. The office would be more influential once it is independent of the FAA, putting commercial spaceflight within the category of other transportation modes, Nield pointed out.  

The weight of FAA priorities competing against AST was manifested in a suggestion from Deputy Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg in November that the launch industry help fund the additional resources the office needs instead of increasing its budget.  

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Category: Space

Tags: Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration George Nield Office of Commercial Space Transportation space SpaceNews